A new weight-loss injection that could help obese people cut their overall body weight by over 10 percent has been approved and recommended for use by UK health officials. The new jab, called Semaglutide, has shown extreme potential in recent clinical trials and will be recommended to people with BMIs of over 35 kilograms per square meter and in exceptional circumstances those with BMIs over 30 kilograms per square meter.
Such a treatment will help aid those that desperately wish to shed weight but struggle to do so, as well as improve the financial strain placed onto the NHS by an increasingly overweight population.
“We know that management of overweight and obesity is one of the biggest challenges our health service is facing with nearly two thirds of adults either overweight or obese. It is a lifelong condition that needs medical intervention, has psychological and physical effects, and can affect quality of life,” said Helen Knight, program director at the center for health technology evaluation at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in a statement.
“But in recent years NICE has been able to recommend a new line of pharmaceutical treatments which have shown that those people using them, alongside changes to their diet and exercise, have been able to reduce their weight.”
Semaglutide will now join two other prescription drugs for weight-loss – called orlistat and liragultide – that are available on the NHS before surgical intervention is considered, and will be bought by the NHS for a price of £73.25 ($100) per pack.
The announcement comes in the wake of a STEP 1 randomized, double-blind clinical trial of semaglutide that found a 12 percent decrease in weight when compared to a placebo control group over a period of 68 weeks. Semaglutide is taken as a weekly injection, and used in conjunction with other lifestyle interventions of diet, counseling, and physical activity changes.
Acting on GLP-1 receptors, which are found in both the pancreas and the brain, semaglutide increases the secretion of insulin and slows gastric emptying, suppressing the urge to eat.
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK. In England, over one in four people (28 percent) are currently considered medically obese and a further 36 percent are considered overweight. According to NICE, the combined financial burden of this equates to £6.1 billion ($8.62 billion) on the NHS and £27 billion ($36.6 dollars) on society as a whole. This problem increases as the population ages, with around three quarters of the population aged 45-74 estimated to be overweight or obese.